All main characters are copyrighted by Marvel Comics. This is presented with a deep bow of respect to Jack Kirby, Peter Gillis and Walt Simonson, whose stories provided my inspiration.
This is a story of the Bronze Age Eternals. It is set before the events of 1991's Eternals: The Herod Factor and all subsequent Eternals titles. The events of this story create a separate timeline in which the events of those titles may not occur.
The First Host wove the gene strands of the Seed Races.
The Second Host chastened the Deviation.
The Third Host contested with the local gods.
The Fourth Host observed the main Seed, allowing it to grow.
The Fifth Host comes, to inquire of the highest Seed.
Prelude - Spring 1990
Scattered cumulus clouds decorated the sky over the plaza of Olympia, glowing white in the morning sun. The light reflected on the bright marble columns surrounding the carved bench where Ikaris sat. His mood was no match for the weather. The Prime Eternal’s brooding cast a broader shadow on the paving stones than the broad shoulders of Karkas, who stood beside him. Neither spoke.
The huge Deviant-turned-Olympian stretched out his hand, pointing to a snow-topped mountain in the middle distance. As Ikaris looked up, a red streak flashed down the mountainside. A moment later, it crossed the plaza. Makarri took a seat on the next bench and gave a worried look to Ikaris.
“Still no word or sign?”
“No sign,” Ikaris muttered. “But she gave clear word. Though the summons to court was urgent, our sister Sersi was no more silent than ever and you can imagine her response.”
“Not now, I have a party to attend to.”
“A sailing party. Or, should I say, much sailing and many parties. Fine wine, long yachts and adoring mortals. Far more important than the affairs of the Eternals, to be sure.”
“It is always difficult to part her from New York society.”
Ikaris rose, grasping his hair. Silent Karkas cast down his eyes.
“That is the insult. She is not even in New York. She is a moment’s flight away, wandering the Aegean seas and hopping on Greek isles as it suits her.”
“Then we are a moment from taking her in hand,” Makarri replied. “Her parties cannot shield her.”
“Can anyone truly take Sersi in hand? Her moods are as shifting as her illusions. We must face what approaches without her. Have you given thought to my message?”
Suddenly, bright clouds darkened and rushed together, beginning to swirl in the center of the sky over the heads of the Eternals. Two bolts flashed across the face of the clouds, then, just as the thunder struck, a third bolt cut down and scorched the center of the plaza. Ikaris and Makarri leapt to their feet. A caped figure swept down and landed hard on the mark of the lightning strike.
The figure shook back long blonde hair and raised a right arm that clutched a war hammer.
“Ho! Eternals! I come seeking battle. Who dares engage me?”
The shock was plain on Ikaris’ face. “Thor?”
“You know me, son of Zuras. But that was not my question. Will you engage me?”
“Why would I or any Eternal fight you, Thor? You and your comrade Avengers have been our allies for decades. Some of your members are Eternals by blood. We have no quarrel with you.”
Makarri spoke up. “Indeed, Thor, we welcome you. Lower your hammer and take my hand, my friend.”
“I decide with whom I have quarrel. Stand to fight, or fall like cowards.”
Ikaris and Makarri exchanged blank looks. Makarri extended both hands, palms to the churning sky.
“Friend Thor, we will not fight you.”
“No? Let us see how long you think so.”
Thor raised his hammer over his winged helmet and the lightning flashed down onto the uru head. Alarmed, Karkas stepped in front of his Eternal comrades and crouched his short legs so the granite-like block of his torso faced Thor. With a look of recognition, then a roaring laugh, Thor brought down the hammer. He aimed its head at Karkas and shot a bright bolt of white lightning straight into the chest of the Deviant. There was a blinding flash, but no part of Karkas moved.
“You stand!” Thor shouted. “Yes! A foe worthy of Asgard.”
Karkas said nothing. Instead, he began a lumbering rush for Thor. Reaching him, he struck with his right fist and the blonde figure flew through the air, landing on the stones of the other side of the plaza.
Thor rose, shaking his hair from his face.
“You stand and you dare!” Thor shouted again, laughing. “And daring, you buy yourself another blow.”
He began to spin his hammer at his right side. The wind blew loose pebbles from the stone paving and buffeted the astonished faces of Ikaris and Makarri. Before even Makarri could move, Thor set his hammer on course for Karkas, flying behind it, cape snapping at the speed. The god and his weapon struck Karkas like a thunder stroke and the force of the blow tore a trench through the plaza and hid both Asgardian and Deviant.
In a red streak, Makarri vanished through the cloud of dust to assist. When Ikaris strode to the scene, he heard concern in Makarri’s voice.
“Karkas? Karkas, speak. Thor? Can either of you hear me?”
The thunder god was lying on Karkas’ chest and both appeared to be knocked cold from the impact. In a moment, Karkas’ broad head began to move and a low sound came from his mouth. At first it sounded like a groan, but soon took on a rumbling rhythm. At the same time, Thor began chuckling too, at first slowly then louder by the moment, until both figures were rocking in unison.
Ikaris and Makarri again traded glances. Thor’s laughter was rising in pitch. As the sound changed, his hair began to darken. His cape vanished. His breastplate turned green.
Rising to her feet, the beaming figure of Sersi bent down to extend her hand to Karkas. His laughter continued to rumble forth and she helped him back to his feet.
Sersi waved a hand and the illusion of the battle scene resolved beneath them. They stood under bright sun shining off the undamaged stones.
“My Lord Ikaris, you insisted on my presence. You must have expected that I would only come for a bit of fun?”
He is the vanguard of The Fifth. His purpose is to judge. The towering amethyst figure needed no more thought or knowledge than that. His purpose was sufficient. Stretching arms a full hundred feet in span like wings, he rose from the surface of the moon and into the glow of the yellow gases of Saturn overhead. In a moment, he was free of the weak gravity of the satellite and rose through the debris field of the rings.
He cast a silent gaze over the surrounding space. On the other moons, no races. On the gas giant and the red-limned rock planet spinning next between himself and the star, no races. So his eyes then fell on the blue planet. Its moon housed a race, but not of the Seed. The blue planet was variously called Terra, Sol-3, Earth. The blue planet was Seeded three times, so The Hosts knew it as The Trilogy. Its human Seed had been observed by The Fourth, who left them to their evolution. The Fifth Host had a different interest, the Eternal Seed.
Fixing his gaze through his amethyst visor on the planet, he willed himself into open space and began his approach.